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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  December 18, 2009 2:00am-6:00am EST

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objection. mr. alexander: well, i thank the senator from arizona. i was thinking when i listened to the -- i wonder if the senator noticed the california governor's comments on sunday. governor schwarzenegger said that he supports the idea of overhauling health care, but -- quote --"the last thing we need said governor schwarzenegger is another $3 billion in spending. he was referring to one of the unintended consequences of this bill which is the big state costs of medicaid being shifted to the states. here's governor schwarzenegger's advice following up the comments of the leader. so i would say be very careful to the federal government. this is from the govern or of california. before you go to bed with all of this, let's rethink it, said governor schwarzenegger. there is no rush from one second to the next.
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let's take another week or two. let's come up with the right package. i wonder if the senator saw this. mr. mccain: i thank the governor of tennessee. i recognize that you understand this better than anyone having been a governor and realizing the challenges that the governors face. governor swartz anything thatter ianything-- schwarzenegger -- democrats blues grow deeper in new poll and then support for health care overhaul weigh in. some remarkable information concerning the mood and views of the american people following on a "washington post"-abc news poll out yesterday that 51% of americans say they oppose the proposed changes to the system. 44% approve. thanks to the efforts of so many
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people, including our leadership, we have turned american public opinion because we've been informing them of the consequences of passage of this legislation. let me just quote from "the wall street journal," article. according to -- more american now believe it is better to keep the current health care system than to pass president obama's plan according to a new "wall street journal"-nbc news poll. the findings mark a shift from the fall when the overhaul enjoyed an edge over the status quo. according to the poll, 44% of americans said it's better to pass no plan at all compared with 41% who said it's better to pass a plan. what they're saying is: don't do this government takeover. don't increase taxes, don't increase spending, don't increase the cost. and it's remark -- it's a remarkable shift thanks to informing the american people. could i mention one other
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statistic to my -- a couple of other points made in this poll in the -- in -- in "the wall street journal,". in december -- in th "the wall street journal,". in december 44% said that they wanted to have it pass. in december this poll out today only 41% of the american people want it passed and 44% say keep the current system. and then, of course, we have another interesting statistic. trust that government will do what is right. 21% say always, most of the time. 46% say only some of the time. and 32% of the american people say almost never. and, of course, the -- the anger and disapproval of this health
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care plan right now is the centerpiece of americans' dissatisfaction of the way we do business. we don't have bail. we don't have a bill. -- have a bill. we don't have a bill. we have been debating and we do not have legislation. this was one of the bills that we were presented with. we know significant changes are being made behind closed doors. we don't have a c.b.o. estimate of the costs? do we? we understand that they keep sending estimates over to c.b.o. and it comes back and so they send them back which is probably why last week the senator from illinois, the number two ranking democrat said to me, i don't know what's in the bill either. i have an exact quote. he would say i would say to the senator from arizona that i'm in the dark almost as much as he is and i'm in the leadership. that's an interesting commentary. and, of course, the issue of the protection of the rights of the unborn is still unclear. that is a big issue with a lot
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of americans. it's a big issue with me. and i know it's a big issue with my colleagues. so here we are back off of the bill, itself. and apparently we are going to have some kind of vote on christmas eve or something like that. what the american people are saying now when they're saying keep the status quo, they're saying, stop the. go back to the beginning. -- stop. go back to the beginning. sit down on a bipartisan basis and let's get this done. but let's get it done right. americans know that medicare's going broke. americans know that costs are rising too quickly. but americans want us to do this right and not in a partisan fashion and not with a bill that costs too much, taxes too much and deprives people of their benefits. mr. alexander: the senator of arizona, i thank him for his comments. and i see that we have the two physicians in the senate, dr. coburn from oklahoma, and doctor barrasso from wyoming.
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i wonder if they would bear with me for just a minute or two to reflect on something that the majority leader said and the -- what the minority leader said. the minority leader talked about a historic mistake. there's been a lot of talk around here about making history on health care. the problem is there's many different kinds of history as the republican leader -- leader has pointed out. it seems our friends on the other side are absolutely determined to pursue a political come cozkamakazee mission for td states. i did a little research on historic mistakes. we made them before in the united states congress and maybe we'd be wise to take governor schwarzenegger's advice and slow down and learn from our history rather than try to top our previous historic mistake, like the smoot-halley tariff when it
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sounded like a good idea to buy american. there was the alien incidition act, we were going to keep the foreigners in our midst, mostly french, from saying bad things about our government. 1969, congress enacted a millionaire's tax they called it to try to catch 155 americans who weren't paying any tax that turned out to be a historic mistake because last year it caught 28 million american taxpayers until we had to rush to change it. and just a couple more. there was the catastrophic coverage act of 1988. that was well named because it turned out to be a catastrophe. a congressional catastrophe. the idea was to help seniors deal with financial reverses, but seniors didn't like paying for it. they surrounded the chairman of
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the ways an means committee in -- and means committee in chicago. and then there was the luxury tax on boats over $100,000. another historic mistake. because it only -- it raised about half the taxes it was supposed to and nearly sank the boating industry and it put 7,600 people out of jobs. i would ask my friends from oklahoma and wyoming. it's going to be a lot harder for congress if they try to fix all of this health care system at once to come back and repeal it than it was t to repeal a bot tax. don't you think we should take the time to avoid another historic mistake? mr. coburn: i would answer my colleague from tennessee that as a practicing physician, what i see is the historic mistake is we're going to allow the federal government to decide what care you're going to get. we're going to divide the loyalty of your physician. no longer will they be a 100%
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advocate for you. they're going to be an advocate for the government and what the government says. this bill, even the one that's going to come, has three different programs that puts bureaucracy in charge of what you can and cannot have. it doesn't consider your personal health, what your past history is, what your family history is. they're going to say what you can and cannot do. that's called rationing. that's in the bill. that's coming. and that's a historic mistake. because it ruins the best health care system in the world in the name of trying to fix the smaller problem in terms of access. it ignores the real problem. the real problem is that health care in this countryst costs too much. this bill doesn't drive down costs. it increases cost. your premiums go up. your costs go up. your care is going to go down because the government is going to tell you what to have. that is a historic mistake and we haven't addressed. i wonder what my colleague from wyoming thinks. mr. barrasso: as a physician
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practicing medicine and taking care of people in wyoming for 25 years, i have great concerns about this bill or at least what we know for sure is in it, which is $500 billion of cuts in medicare to our patients who depend on medicare, and that's a system we know have gone broke. that's why there's a front page story in one of the wyoming papers, "doctor shortage will worsen." it will be harder for rural communities around the country if this goes through. we know that because folks who looked at the parts of the that we have seen, they said that one-fifth of the hospitals if they're able to keep their doors open will operate at a significant loss 10 years from now. that is not the best health care for our country. i had a telephone town hall meeting, people from around the state of wyoming could ask me questions. said that: what's in the bill? what's coming to the senate? we don't know. we haven't seen it. they said when you know, come
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home, let's have town meetings so we can have some input into what you think. that's what we ought to dos a a senate. let us go home and see it and share it. so right -- right now the american people are from what they have seen, the 2,000-page bill, the american people believe this will increase the cost of their own personal care. mr. coburn: if my colleague would yield. i ask the chairman of the finance committee to agroo to a unanimous consent that in fact at least 72 hours that the american people get to see this bill. that the members of the senate get to see the bill. that there will be a complete c.b.o. score so we can have a complete understanding. he denied that request. that goes to transparency. the american people expect us to know what we're voting on and have read what we're voting on. and his explanation was that i can't guarantee that. that presumes a certain level of
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perception on my part and delving into the mind of the senators that they would understand. what does understand mean? that's the kind of gibberish that the american people don't want. they want us to know what we're voting on when we vote on this bill. mr. mccain: isn't that a violation of the commitment made that for 72 hours that the legislation would be online not just for us to see, but for all americans to see. could i ask the senator from kentucky, again, the leader: is it not the perception now that this bill is probably going to be pushed through through various parliamentary procedures that we will -- that the majority will try to force a final vote on this legislation no matter what before we leave? and isn't that in contradiction to what the american people are saying? mr. mccain: that they want us, the majority want us to do
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nothing. is this the responsible way to govern? have the senate in around the clock 24 hours? people on the floor. quorum calls and all of this kind of stuff? and, really, there would be no amendments allowed at that time for us to at least address some of the issues of this -- of this bill that begins cutting medicare by $500 billion, increases taxes by $500 billion on january 1 and in four years begins spending $2.5 trillion. is this a process that the american people are not reacting to in a negative fashion, obviously, by polling data. by the way, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that "the wall street journal," article entitled "democrats blues grows deeper in new poll and support for health overhaulway ins be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i would say to my friend from arizona, with issue
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to the process, it has been a bit of a charade. in fact, a total charade. we've been out here for two weeks on the amendment process. we've had 21 votes. many have been side by side in order to cover the majority against potential down side on voting to cut medicare and voting to raise taxes, but no serious effort to engage in any kind of genuine amendment process such as the senator from arizona and i have been involved here for quite awhile. then the bill that we're actually only allowed to have about two votes a day on is not the real bill. the real bill is -- well, the we know what the core of it is but there's a lot of things around the edges that are being slipped in and slipped out. and they want to jam the public before christmas, as the senator from arizona indicated.
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how arrogant is that? we know better than you. we know better than the republicans. we know better than the public. why don't all of you all, the republicans and the american public, sit down and shut up and leave it to us, and we'll take care of it before christmas. a senator: to the republican leader, the senator from kentucky, there is another bit of history being made. mr. alexander: this isn't very hard to understand. i mean, the proposal is to take 16%, 17% of our economy, affecting 300 million americans. nothing could be more personal, as the kentucky senator has said, than our health care. and we don't have the bill. we do not have the bill. it's being written in secret in another room. and if there's any part of this debate that went through to
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every single household in america, i believe it was when the finance committee voted down the motion, the democrats voted down a motion that the bill should be on the web for 72 hours so the american people could see the text, know what it costs and know how it affects them. eight democratic senators then wrote the democratic leader and said we want to insist that we know what the text is, that we have the official score from the congressional budget office, and that we have it for 72 hours before we move to vote. now, we don't have the bill. we don't have the official score from the congressional budget office. 72 hours is three more days. even though eight democratic senators and all the republican senators said we want to know what it costs, know what it is and know how it affects us, they want to run it through before christmas. mr. mccain: maybe -- could i just mention to my colleague, maybe the reason why they don't
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want it to be online for 72 hours is because when they examine what we have, on page 324 on this bill, an $8 billion tax on individuals that have nongovernment -- quote -- "approved plans." page 348, a $28 billion tax on businesses that cannot afford to offer to their employees. on page 1979 raises an almost $150 billion tax on many middle-class workers using so-called cadillac health insurance plans. page 1997 will cost families and individuals an additional $5 billion by prohibiting use of savings set aside for health care expenses. paeubg 2010 make the cost more expensive by charging more.
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that's one reason why maybe it's going to be difficult for them to win passage of this after 72 hours of examining this 2,000-page bill. mr. mcconnell: it makes this bill, in addition to all its other problems, a job killer. with unemployment at 10%, a big tax increase on a variety of different americans, as senator mccain just pointed out, in addition to all its other problems -- its substantive problems, process problems, it's a job killer in the middle of a difficult recession. mr. coburn: i say to my colleagues, the lack of transparency, one of the things my friend, president obama, said he wanted to have is transparency. there's been no transparency in this process. if there's not going to be transparency in the process, we ought to at least have it transparent to the american people for 72 hours. even the quote from the chairman
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of the finance committee is i think it's impossible to certify that any senator will fully understand. here we're going to have a 2,000-plus-page bill and the chairman of the finance committee says tepbgz's going to be -- tepbgz's going to be -- it's going to be impossible for any senator to certify they fully understand this bill. if we don't understand it, you can bet the american people aren't going to understand it. mr. mccain: enough americans are beginning to understand it that they don't want it. that's thanks to the efforts that have been made all over this country to educate the american people about what the impact of this bill would be. mr. barrasso: following along what you're saying, that's why the support right now of the american people for this bill is at an all-time low, the lowest level of support ever. this is the new nbc poll out yesterday, fewer than one out of three americans support this bill. they don't know what's in it but
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they sure don't like what they see so far because they all believe, overwhelming numbers believe their own cost of their own care will go up, that this will add to the deficit, will hurt the economy, and that their health care would actually be better if we pass nothing. so why would the american people support a bill that's actually going to cost them more personally and their health care is going to get worse? that's not the value the american people have ever wanted. so, you know, that's what i hear from my patients at home. that's what i hear at telephone town hall meetings. that's what we're hearing in all of our states. that's what the american people continue to say: do not pass this bill. as our leader said, we do need health care reform. dr. coburn certainly knows that, but it's not this reform that we need. mr. alexander: we come to the floor every day and pointing out the problems with the bill. we've done that today. one, we don't have the bill, can't read it, don't know how
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much it costs, don't know how it affects the american people. we point out that it raises taxes, raises premiums. it will increase the debt because it doesn't include a lot of things like the physicians reskpwurplt. and -- respwurplt. and it -- reimbursement. but we also point out what we think should be done. what we think should be done -- colleagues pointed it out many times -- instead of wheeling in another 2,000-page bill, we should focus on the goal of reducing costs and take several steps towards reducing costs. the senator from arizona talked about one of those, reducing the number of junk lawsuits against doctors. i don't think that's in the bill unless it's secretly being added in the back room today. mr. mccain: that's one i doubt is being added. again, i also want to point out americans are now against passage of this legislation but in that polling data, it's very
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interesting also. the the majority of seniors by much larger numbers, the actual beneficiaries of medicare are turning against it. and the intenseity of americans against it, which is hard tore gauge in a poll -- harder to gauge in a poll, is incredible. if the responses that our efforts are getting are anything indicative of the mood of the american people and the intensity of it, it is probably as great as i have ever seen in the years that i have had the privilege of serving in the congress of the united states. and this polling data says more americans now believe it's better to keep the current health system than to pass president obama's plan is the message that's being sent. and the intensity of it is higher than any i have etch observed in my -- ever observed in my years of service.
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i thank them for it because there's a chance -- there's a chance -- that we could stop this, beginning in january we'd be willing to sit down together, negotiate with the c-span cameras, with the c-span cameras as the president committed that he would do as a candidate, and we'd sit down together here, at the white house, anywhere, and fix this system which we all know needs fixing because as the senator from oklahoma saeed, it's the -- oklahoma said, it's the cost that has to be addressed, not the quality. mr. coburn: i'd like to bring up an example. we have the u.s. preventive health task force put out a recommendation on breast cancer screening through mammography on the basis of cost. and what they said was, is it's not cost effective to screen
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women under 50 with mammograms because you have to screen 1,900 before you find one breast cancer. but comparing -- and on cost, they're right. but over 50 you have to screen 1,470. so what we had was a decision that was made on cost, not on quality, not on patients. but based on cost. we fixed that as part of an amendment to this bill. we actually fixed that. there's three different agencies within this bill that are going to do the same thing. and every time they make a ruling based on cost, not based on clinical outcomes and what's best for patients, are we going to fix it? we're transferring the care of the american patient to three bureaucracies within the federal government, and they're going to decide what you have to do. and if you think about it, just this week a member of this body's wife was diagnosed with
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breast cancer, and she was diagnosed through a mammogram. and under that task force recommendation, she wouldn't have gotten it. mr. mccain: could i ask the senator from oklahoma, would that aspect of this bill come to light if it hadn't been for the recommendation that was made by another but similarly acting policy-making body? in other words, that's what's triggered the investigation of what was in this bill which would have had exactly the same effect. so if we hadn't had that information of a recommendation by another government policy-making bureaucracies we would not have known about this until the bill would have actually taken effect. mr. coburn: so there is no transparency. and what we do know that is transparent is that we're going to have three organizations -- the medicare advisory commission, the cost comparative
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effectiveness panel and the u.s. preventive task force -- that's going to tell everybody in america what they're going to receive. mr. mccain: this would never have been known if it hadn't been for the actions of the bureaucracy. doesn't that bring into question what else is in this legislation? coburn what are the unintended consequences of this, they don't know. what we know is there are 70 new government programs that with 1,690 times when the secretary of h.h.s. is going to write rules and regulations about your health care in america. mr. coburn: the secretary. not your doctor. not your doctor is going to write the rules and regulations about what your best care is. the secretary of h.h. is s. is going to -- the secretary of h.h.s. is going to write the rules. mr. mccain: the majority leader keeps bouncing proposals
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to c.b.o. back and forth. that's why we don't have c.b.o. information now for many days. but there is the committee -- commission for medicare and medicaid that clearly points out that this legislation would increase taxes dramatically, increase costs dramatically, and decrease care and would have the effect of forcing people not only out of the system but even if they're in the medicare system, they would not have physicians to provide the care because more and more physicians would fail to treat medicare patients. mr. coburn: we go back to the 72 hours. we're going to get a new bill. we're not going to have the opportunity to amend it. we're not going to get the time to read it and study it. the american people aren't going to get the time to read it and study it. what do you think the outcome of that is going to be? mr. mccain: i think we know what the outcome -- we'll either be able to reflect the feelings and the intense feelings of the
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american people about the -- the majority of the american people about this legislation and say let's go back to square one. let's all commit to a bipartisan approach to this issue. or we will see jammed through on christmas eve legislation that will have the most far-reaching effects and devastating effects i think not only on our ability to provide much-needed medical care to all of our citizens, but also impact that would be devastating on the debt and the deficit which we have already laid an unconscionable burden. we really have two choices here, it seems to me: go back to the beginning, enact many of the reforms we could agree on. and there's many of them that we could agree on immediately on a bipartisan fashion. and as the senator from tennessee pointed out, there has never been a fundamental reform made in the history, modern history that was not bipartisan,
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or we're going to see jammed through over the objections of the majority of americans, thraegs they've never seen nor read. or understand. so that's really the choice between us. that's really what this choice is boiling down to. and i think that, frankly, the american people should be heard, not the majority over on the other side. mr. barrasso: the american people are saying, don't cut my medicare, don't raise my taxes, don't make things worse than they are right now. and this bill cuts medicare, raises taxes, and for people depending upon a health care system in this country, this makes things worse. mr. mccain: by the way, could i mention, you know, if you live long enough, all things can happen. i now find myself in complete agreement with dr. howard dean. who says that we should stop this bill in its tracks. we should go back to the beginning and have an overall
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bipartisan agreement. dr. dean, i am with you. the presiding officer: time has expired. the senator from pennsylvania. mr. specter: mr. president, i ask consent that i may speak up to 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. specter: i have sought recognition to speak about the patient protection and affordable care act. and it has been an extraordinary legislative process with a good bit of the calendar year, 2009, taken up with very intensive work to try to pass health care reform. and at the moment there is still some doubt as to what will happen with the bill. the congressional budget office has not yet submitted a report on the so-called managers' package. and there's still some concerns
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being expressed by some senators. and i can understand the frustration that some have had as we have moved away from a public option. i have been an advocate of a robust public option and think that it ought to be part of the legislation. the public option is just what it says. it's an option. there have been efforts made to demagogue the issue by saying it is a takeover by the federal government. well, it is not. the private insurance industry remains in the field. and this is one option. as president obama has put it, it is an option to try to keep the private insurance companies honest. we have seen in the past several months very large increases in
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premiums for small business. and the reports have been that those increases in premiums have come from wall street pressure on the insurance companies to try to increase their profits before their is a legislation. well, the public option would be a forceful actor dealing there. when the objections were raised to the public option in an effort to find 60 votes, and it is difficult when you have no help at all from the republican side of the aisle illustrated by the performance just put on on their prepared colloquy. it is -- it is not easy to find everyone in agreement. and then there was an effort to
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move to expanding medicare. and i think that is a fallback position that would have been very, very helpful. and there are some who are contending that people who are disappointed from the lack of a public option -- disappointed from the retreat of expanding medicare to say that we ought to start over and begin again. and i can understand that frustration. my own view, after thinking it through very carefully, is that we ought to proceed and do as much as we can this year. realizing that some of this health legislative achievements take a period of time to accomplish. the civil rights act of 1957 was necessary, although it didn't go as far as people would have liked then to get the civil
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rights act of 1964. again, didn't go as far as people would have liked. but we did find the civil rights act of 1965. and we have to find times when we have to build incrementally on these matters. and i have been in the senate following the elections of 1980, and i've seen matters take a very, very substantial period of time. while it's not on the subject, trying to -- trying to provide more than 100,000 jobs in pennsylvania by deepening the chanel. and the authorization came in 1983. it took until 1992 to get the corps of engineers to agree. then funding, now has $77 million, and we are still in court. but it is going to move forward. i don't expect health care legislation to take that kind of a long term, but -- but it is a
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matter which does take some time. it is my hope that we will, yet, improve this -- this bill. it is my hope that when the bill goes to conference, that we will find a way, perhaps, even to bring back the public option in a refined sense. the public option is in the house bill. one republican senator who has stated opposition on the ground that there hasn't been time enough to review the bill. well, it is complicated. i think there has been time enough to review the bill. but i respect the view of the senator on the other side of the aisle and when the bill goes to conference, that senator will have an opportunity to review the bill further. and that senator has shown some inclination to support the bill having voted it out of the finance committee. another republican senator has
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commented that the bill has been very greatly improved. not sufficiently for the taste of that senator, but perhaps we will find a way -- a way to improve the bill. and we still do have a bicameral legislature. we do have the house of representatives which has the public option. comments were made about the fall of the expansion of medicare on the ground that it was considered in too brief a period of time. not enough time to digest it. not enough time to think through it. well, we'll have -- the month of january. some time to consider that further. and in conference we may well find that we're able to improve the bill. now, we can't get to conference unless we pass the bill out of the united states senate. i was asked yesterday: how will
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i respond to my constituents if we have the bill which has had so much taken from it? and i said, a morrell vent question or equally relevant question is how will i respond to my 12 million constituents in pennsylvania if we go home with -- with nothing? and that if we have 80% accomplished, then -- then that's a great achievement or it is a starting achievement. and it may well be that it will take the campaign in 2010, if this united states congress will not pass a bill with a robust public option, could well be a campaign issue. i believe that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle may well be misreading the american
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people. i believe the american people do want health reform. and it does take time for the american people to understand the ramifications of it. but this may well be a campaign issue in 2010. and the 111th congress may have a different view as to how we ought to proceed. during the month of august, when i was making the rounds of town meetings in pennsylvania, in accordance with my habit to cover almost every county, almost every year. when i got to the first town meeting, the second tuesday in august, first week we were in recess, i found instead of the customary 85 or 100 people, more than 1,000 people and three national television sound trucks, cnn, msnbc and fox.
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and there were two -- one man approached me, said that the lord was going to stand before me. i think he got mixed up. i think he meant to say that i was going to stand before the lord. senators are reputed to have power, but not quite that much power. well, i think the public tenor is considerably more favorable to health care insurance today than it was then. and after the 2010 election, it may be substantially more favorable. but i think we have to move ahead with building blocks. and we do have the chance to approve the bill in conference -- improve the bill in conference. i would point to the provisions of the bill as to what we have. we have very significant insurance reforms. eliminating discrimination based on preexisting conditions. we have new health insurance
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exchanges. we have an elimination of a cap. we cover many of the uninsured, expanding to some 33 million additional people. substantial more small business assistance. preventive care. increased health workforce. we have improvements in the health delivery system. we have fiscal responsibility. that this bill will not add to the deficit, it will, in fact, reduce the deficit in the first decade by $120 billion and in the second decade b by $650 billion. we have a provision that i have pressed in earlier legislation, senate bill 914, that to provide for transformational medicine. during my tenure as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on health and human services, i
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took the lead with the concurrence of senator harkin, who was then in the minority, to increase n.i.h. funding fro from $12 billion to $30 billion. and then in the stimulus package to add $10 billion more. and there has been a gap on what we call transformational medicine, going from the so-called bench in the laboratory to the bedside. and while i haven't seen the final version of the managers' package, i'm informed that that provision will be a part of the bill. we have very important measures for preventive care, for annual exams, which will cut off many chronic illnesses which are so debilitating and so expensive. i have pressed a -- an amendment, which is pending, to have mandatory jail sentences
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for at least six months for someone convicted of $100,000 or more of medicare or medicaid fraud. and jail sentences are a real deterrent. the experience i had as philadelphia's d.a. has showed me that when you have a fine that's added on to the cost of doing business, passed on to the consumers -- i would ask consent that the statement of the provisions which i briefly summarized, which are very favorable in this bill, and a statement of testimony in a criminal justice subcommittee hearing be included showing the value of -- of deterrence. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. specter: mr. president, how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: the senator has seven minutes remaining. mr. specter: i thank the chair. mr. president, there is another
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very, very important aspect, in my opinion, of the senate enacting legislation on this bill. and that is we were sent to washington to govern. and what we have seen in the recent past has been a staggering partisan politics. partisan politics became a blood sport in washington, d.c.. some blood sport on the floor of the united states senate, pervades the entire town. and the point from the republican side of the aisle has been very clear. that is, to make this president obama's waterloo. to make this -- to -- quote --
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"break president obama." and i saw the ramifications when we took up the stimulus package earlier this year. and there were only three republicans -- senator snowe, senator collins, and myself -- who would even talk to the democrats. and there was a determination to look ahead to the 2012 elections on the presidency even before the ink was dry on the oath of office taken by president obama on january 20. this was the second week of february, the wao*efbg february 6, as i re -- the week of february 6, as i recall, just a couple of weeks, and already the plans were for the next election. as i reviewed the matter, it seemed to me we were on the brink of going into a 1929
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depression. the 1929 depression was very hard on the specter family, living in wichita, kansas, at the time. both of my parents were immigrants. in the mid-1930's the family moved from wichita to philadelphia to live with my father's sister. that's what happened in a depression, you moved in with relatives because there were no jobs. i sided with supporting the stimulus package and played a key role in having that enacted. and the political consequences on a personal level are not something to be discussed in this forum at this time. but the conduct of partisanship on the stimulus package is directly relevant to what we're doing here today, and that is we're being stonewalled. and i think it is harder for a
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republican to stand up on health care reform and join the democrats today than it was in january and in february, when three of us did so. and if i were on the other side of the aisle today, i would be supporting health care reform. i would be supporting it. and perhaps if i were on the other side of the aisle today, i could bring somebody with me. i don't know. that's entirely speculative. and without revealing any more of the confidence which went inside the republican caucus when i talk about a republican senator's statement of this should be the waterloo of president obama, and this should break him, those are matters in the public record. but the pressure over there on the republican caucus is absolutely intense. and we were sent here to govern.
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and a democratic caucus and the presiding officer, the distinguished senator from colorado, was there on monday evening when my turn came to speak, i said i have two sentences. and may the record show a smile on the face of the presiding officer. i said i have two sentences. one sentence is that the bill is a great deal better than the current system. and the second sentence was we should not let obstructionism prevent us from governing. and that's why i crossed the aisle to make the 60th vote. and very surprised it's been in the public record, been in the newspapers, everybody stood up and applauded and i read in one of the hill newspapers today that you could hear the applause down the corridor. they knew what was going on. well, that's the rule, it
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seems -- the role, it seems to me, of a united states senator. and we are facing a situation where if defeated, we'll have a significant impact on the tenure of president obama. we had a meeting on tuesday, two days ago, in the executive office building, and it was rather a remarkable setting. it was a large rectangular table, and in the center on each side, one side was president obama, the other side was vice president biden. and almost all of the 60 senators were present. i think senator byrd couldn't be there because of his ailment, but i believe everybody else was present. and during the course of that session, the president expressed himself. this has also been publicized -- that if action was not taken now
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that twos discourage -- that it would discourage anyone in the forseeable future, any president from undertaking health care reform. if now you can't get it through the senate and get it conferenced and get it enacted. and some of those who were most vocal urged -- most vocal in favor of the public option urged those in the caucus who disagreed to reconsider their position. and i would renew that request, that they reconsider their position. and the people who classify themselves as most progressive in the democratic caucus have swallowed hard and have announced publicly that they would support this bill, even though it doesn't have the robust public option, doesn't have the medicare expansion. and that may, that may, that may
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shift yet. but we have an enormous number of problems facing this country. i think it is fair to say, accurate to say -- 30 seconds more, mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. specter: -- fair and accurate to say there are more pressing problems confronting united states today than at any time in our history. we have to finish health care next year to move ahead to jobs. we have the issues of global warming and climate control. we have the problems of the mideast peace process, the difficulties in iran and north korea and afghanistan. we need a strong president, and we need a congress which has the courage to act and the tenacity, willingness to confront tough problems. and we need to show the american people that it's not all gridlock here, that it's not all desperate, tkes lute partisan
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politics. so my vote will be in favor of the bill although i am, frankly disappointed and share the frustration of people who say go back and start again. this is a significant step forward. we have a great chance to improve it in conference. beyond that, there will be another congress. with the analogy of civil rights legislation, we can get the public option and get greater governmental involvement for the benefit of the american
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mark pryor chairs the committee on consumer convention. >> work hard to protect them. senator klobuchar has introduced s1216. the safety act. today we'll consider her legislation and i commend her for her excellent efforts in this area and look forward to this afternoon's discussion and want the audience to know we're
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here because she requested this hearing as part of her leadership on this issue. we're joined by an expert panel of witnesses who have agreed to testify before us. they will share with us their insight regarding carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. i welcome them and thank them for their presence and contributions today. witnesses will present the remarks on one panel and they are already set up. each of you will have five minutes to deliver your oral statement. then we will have an opportunity to ask questions and follow-up on your opening statements. your written statements will also be included in the record. if you want to abbreviate your testimony, that's up to you. carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it's elusive, we can neither see it nor taste it or smell it. each year approximately 500 people die. there's 4,000 hospitalizations that occur as a result of it.
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about 20,000 emergency department visits from this every year. i look forward to learning more about this issue and i look forward to the witness's testimony. but first, senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, senator pryor and thank you for your leadership for this committee. you have always been there in the front line. remember when we had the pool safety bill and there was a family, that tragically lost a little girl. senator pryor was there and got the bill done. i'm hopeful the same thing will be done with the legislation i've introduced. i first wanted to recognize cheryl bird. i was thinking of asking to have the hearing, quite a day to do it. most people might have thought we would be out of session. i had hope we would still be here and glad it worked out for everyone. when i think about what motivates me to get this thing done and keep moving with the
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legislation, it would be someone like cheryl. from rochester, minnesota, home of the mayo clinic and being a leader advocate for carbon mox r monoxide awareness, lost two of her sons 14 years ago. she's here to share her important story and help educate us on the importance of carbon monoxide alarms in the home. i want to thank her for coming along with the other witnesses. in my state of minnesota and across large sections of this country, winter temperatures arrived a few weeks ago. and they'll likely stick around for a while. that means our home furnaces and fireplaces and chimneys will be getting a good workout over the next several months. with that comes a danger, the potential for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, known as the silent killer, carbon mondoxide is a odorless gas produced by
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propane, that is gas and gasoline, can leak from family furnaces or from stoves. they can be trapped inside by blocked trimny or a flue, running a car engine in a garage or operating a gas powered generator in a confined place. when inhaled. it is quickly absorbed into the blood and becomes deadly when it replaces the blood's oxygen. early symptoms of this kind of poisoning are sometimes confused with the flu, headache, nausea, fatigue and dizziness. another 150,000 people ends up in the emergency room, 150,000 a year. children are especially vulnerable. according to the centers for disease control, 92 minnesota ans died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning between 2000
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and 2006. this need not happen of the one of the simplest and most effective defenses is the installation of a carbon monday oox identify detector from the home. the american red cross and mayo clinic and american lung association recommend the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in the home. in minnesota this isn't just good advice, it's the law. since 2008 all homes in our state are required to have working carbon monoxide alarms, naturally it's estimate that's fewer than 30% of homes actually have them. we're here today to think about ways to get more families to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes and also here to talk about legislation that i've introduced along with bill nelson who would require the u.s. consumer products safety commission to enforce stronger standards to protect against the dangers of
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carbon monoxide. it's called the residential prevention act. includes three key provisions, first to tren sthen the safety standards, currently they set volunteer safety standards which are underwritten by underwriter i
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interested or ice storms, something i might be more interested in. when there's a power outage and people are tempted to use generators in their homes. last year's events drove this point home in 2008, two men and a boy died in a minneapolis home from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a use of a portable generator in the home. built authorizes to provide grants to states with laws on the books that promote the use of detectors in apartment buildings and new homes. when someone dies from accidental poisoning, it's a public tragedy too because we know that so often we could have prevented these deaths from the right safeguards. when i was a prosecutor, i was always frustrated by the time a case got to the office the damage had already been done and the crime had already been
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committed. i knew that the best way to protect public safety was to prevent the crime in first place. on this committee, we're in the position to protect families and prevent unnecessary accidents from ever happening at all. that's what we want to do with this carbon monoxide legislation. we are here today to sound the alarm on a silent killer, that is carbon monoxide poisoning. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. >> thank you, what i'm going to do is briefly introduce all four witnesses on the panel and then let you give your testimony. i would love to keep it to five minutes if at all possible. first, we have alan horn, the executive director and general council for safe kids usa and cheryl burt of rochester, minnesota. is it john andress? the director of engineering kid resdown shal and commercial
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division. then we have kelvin cochran, u.s. fire administrator of homeland security. i want to welcome all of you all to the subcommittee today. thank you for your time. i know it's late in december and you probably have a lot of other things you could be doing today. thank you very much for your preparation and for those of you who travelled. we appreciate you very much. you want to lead off? [ inaudible ] >> am i on? one that in our view that gets very little attention. we very much appreciate the opportunity to increase this today. the subcommittee knows very well that safe kids usa spends every waking moment working to protect children from the number one killer, unintentional injury. this subcommittee and quite frankly senator pryor and
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senator klobuchar have been helpful in that effort throughout the years. we know children and children's safety are in good hands with these two members of congress. that help continues here today. the vast majority of americans don't realize the number one killer of children is injury, not cancer or obesity or violence or abduction. it's car crashes, drownings and yes, poisoning like carbon monoxide. so as far as i know, this is the first time congress ever had a dedicated full hearing to poisoning and we think it's about time. thank you senator klobuchar and pryor. i have a portion in my testimony where i talk about how it happens and what the results are and senator klobuchar, i think you addressed that in your testimony. i'll do it by way of making two analogies. one, this is not like smoke. smoke at least arguably, you can see in the home. you can taste it. you can smell it. there's at least ant opportunity for you to react to it and get
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out of the home. by the way i'm not making a case for not having smoke alarms, they are very, very important. carbon monoxide you cannot see or smell. that makes detection all the more important. and i'm reminded of a story along with the burt story of a family of four who died in maryland. they found the father dead in his bathroom on the floor with shaving cream on his face. that's how quickly it happened to him. two children died and the mother and senators, they found the dog dead on the mat. there was no opportunity to detect that this was happening because there was no carbon monoxide detector in the home. i'd be remiss if i didn't talk briefly about a couple of prevention opportunities here and how we think they should be prevented. we'll talk about this piece of legislation. number one and the most important thing the two most important things, if you have a soft of come bustible fuel in
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the home, you better have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. i have it outside the sleeping area and in the living areas. they are not expensive. this is a safety device not used enough. not like smoke alarm in the vast majority of homes. these are still highly underutilized. your legislation senator will help get these into homes. i'll talk about that in a second. the second is to prevent it from happening in the first place, that is the co enter the home. per the manufacturer's instructions, quite frankly, something i should do better, every year getting gas appliances checked. a couple of other things then i'll talk briefly about your legislation, never ever use your gas ranges or ovens to heat your home. that happens and that's a source of carbon monoxide. don't leave your cars running near the home or in an attached garage. you talked about portable
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generators. it seems far too many people use generators inside the home, an opportunity for co to build up in the home and that's when the deaths and injuries happen to the tune of 500 a year across the entire injury risk area. the residential carbon monoxide prevention act if pass will help us greatly in these prevention efforts. we very much appreciate your leadership on this. the bill does much but i'll talk about two things. if passed, it would establish an incentive program as you said to encourage states to pass co law that's require approved alarms be installed in commercial dwellings and construction, new construction. congress has used incentive grants many times before. we think the philosophy is a sound one for booster seats, pool safety legislation, which both of you were supportive of. this is consistent with that philosophy. i will make one change to the bill. right now it applies to just
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rental properties and commercial properties. existing older homes are just as important, in fact more important. they have the older gas appliances, i think you'll hear from the burts on that matter particularly and they have at built to be faulty and fall in disrepair. for the existing homes also like we do for pools and like we do for booster seats, we don't require booster seats in new cars, it's all cars. we would like you to consider that change. then there's a second concept here which is your mandatory standard. i'm running out of time. quite supportive of that, why we think a voluntary standard serves a more vibrant prevention aspect than a mandatory standard. i will say, i'm not worried about these carbon monoxide detectors, this is a pretty good company with a very good reputation. a mandatory standard helps us police the marketplace a little
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better just in case we don't have the good reputation out there. one final point, when parents rely on this to serve a safety purpose, we believe it better serve that safety purpose. it's nice to have a mandatory standard in place to make sure that it meets that goal so that we who have these up in our homes, they behave and react the way they are supposed to. rewe rely on it too greatly. >> thank you. >> good afternoon. my name is cheryl burt and i'm from rochester, minnesota, thank you chairman pryor and members of the committee forgiving me the opportunity to talk about carbon monoxide poisoning and i'd like to thank senator klobuchar for allowing me to tell my story, to take the issue of co awareness to a national level. when you have a fire in your home, you know it. you can see the smoke and smell
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the fumes and feel the heat. and since smoke alarms have been required for years, chances are you will hear the smoke alarm sound. when you have carbon monoxide in the home, you cannot see it or taste it or smell it. you will feel its effects, a headache, nausea, dizziness but you don't realized you're being poisoned. you don't comprehend the danger, if you do you're completely helpless to take action to save yourself or your family. i know, 14 years ago, this january, carbon monoxide poisoned my family and killed two of my three children. let me start by saying that i lived by life safety rules. i had smoke alarms in my home. i used safety gates, child and i thought my home was safe. and i was wrong.
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on this particular evening i progressively got sicker and sicker which what i thought was a family case-sized case of the flu. i had taken my son to the doctor with different symptoms and i knew something was wrong, but everyone, including the doctors, thought i was overreacting. i now know by the time we reached the doctors, my sons had received enough fresh air that the c.o. was causing them to be sick and had dissipated. back then, i never thought that we were being poisoned. by the time i realized something was terribly wrong i didn't have any idea just how terribly wrong it really was. i didn't realize that my babies were dying just rooms away from me. i couldn't help them or even help myself. a carbon monoxide alarm would have saved my children's lives. but i didn't have one in my home
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and that night, my two youngest children died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a malfunctioning furnace. the rest of my family, while we were severely injured we managed to survive this horrible experience, only to wake up the next afternoon in the hospital with our lives tragically changed forever. i was asked to give testimony today to give reasons why i support s-1216 which would give states that passed c.o. alarm laws incentives to raise awareness and would require a mandatory standard for all c.o. alarms in the u.s. i can give you three very good, very precious reasons for my support. nicholas todd burt, zachary todd burt and ryan todd burt. excuse me. my little nick turned 4 years old eight days before he died. in fact, we had been too sick to
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have his birthday party. i now know our illness was really the beginning of carbon monoxide poisoning. but at that time we had decided to wait to celebrate once we all got better and that day never came. he's my reason number one. reason number two is zack. zack was just shy of 16 months old when he died. i had woken up with zack many, many times during that horrible night. looking back, i should have realized that something was very, very wrong in my home. but i was too sick. i was too poisoned to know. instead, it was zack who i could not pick up to rock back to sleep. it was zack who had trouble breathing and the carbon monoxide just made me too weak to lift him up or to soothe him. instead, i hung onto his crib rails. i was trying to keep myself
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standing, trying to keep from passing out and i prayed he would just go back to sleep. i wanted to go to bed myself. i listened to his labored breathing and i was unable to comprehend the danger that my baby was in. i was unable to realize that he was dying. and now i listen to zack's labored breathing every night in my sleep. i would give anything to have that night back, to have been able to think clearly and save my baby. reason number three is ryan. ryan was 5 and a half when we were poisoned. he barely survived. he's lived the past 14 years with the knowledge that while he lived, his two brothers died right next to him and that weighs on a 19-year-old's mind. believe me. what haunts me is that i could have prevented their deaths. as a mother, i felt i should
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have prevented it. i knew a little about carbon monoxide poisoning. i knew about alarms. but i didn't realize their life-saving value. in fact, just a few weeks before this incident happened, i was shopping for the holidays like we are now with a friend and we talked about buying alarms. i7o
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usage, other dangers. i7o but there is no national awareness about c.o. poisoning and i won't rest until every family has a c.o. alarm in their home. this bill would help provide funding about raising awareness of the need for those alarms. thank you. this december 28th would have been nick's 18th birthday. he would be graduating from high school. zack would be 15, probably just getting his driver's permit and i often think of how different my life would be today if i had a c.o. alarm in my home. i wish my state would have had a law in 1996 like the one we have now requiring all homes to have a c.o. alarm. i know without a doubt that i would have had one in my home.
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had there been more public education at that time i would have bought that alarm that day instead of that toy truck and i would not be speaking before you today. there would be no need. instead of extreme sadness during this holiday time of year, i would be home baking, enjoying the holiday season and probably stressing about what to get my three active children for christmas. i couldn't save my sons but you have an opportunity to save someone else's family. i urge you to consider the safety of the citizens of your state and help protect them by supporting s-1216. again, thanks for allowing me to speak before you and thanks for all you do to protect the citizens of the united states. >> well, thank you very much, cheryl. we're just glad you're here i. can't imagine -- i don't think any of us can -- what you went through and having the memories of that night, but you have the courage to share them with us to
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make sure it doesn't happen to other children, so thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here, your courage and dedication. mr. andreis? >> good afternoon. i'm the director of engineering for kiter residential and commercial in leaven worth, california. thank you, members of the committee for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion on the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning in the united states. kiter residential & commercial is part of u.t.c. fire and security, a subsidiary of united technologies corporation. we are a proud leader in carbon monoxide alarms an other safety devices. we are committed to leading the industry in product safety and strict compliance to standards. kidde supports enactment s-1216. the centers for disease control
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and prevention reports each year unintentional c.o. poisoning kills more than 400 americans, requires 20,000 more to seek emergency medical attention and causes more than 4,000 hospitalizatio hospitalizations. this is a strong first step toward preventing the tragedies. i commend the senators for their continued leadership in alleviating this critical public health and safety issue. s-1216 would focus much needed federal attention and resources toward ending accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. the bill's provisions to create a grant program are especially important but today my comments will focus on dreebing the carbon monoxide hazard and how alarms provide warning, and on explaining why it is necessary for mandatory federal product safety standards as laid out in
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s-1216. known as the silent killer carbon monoxide is a by product of incomplete combustion. potential sources are gas burning appliances such as gas, furnace, water heater or grill as well as other fuel-burpi inf devices like fireplaces and engines. if they are improperly installed or malfunction carbon monoxide can build up quickly inside a home. it mixes with the air and can quickly reach dangerous levels. because one cannot see, taste or smell carbon monoxide the only safe way to detect the gas is to install working carbon monoxide alarms. kidde fire and safety experts like the fire protection agency recommend placing c.o. alarms outside each bedroom and on every level of an occupied dwelling. when inhaled carbon monoxide bonds with the blood's hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin.
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an alarm measures concentrations over time to be sure an alarm sounds before a person's blood level reaches 10% carboxyhemoglobin. a normally healthy adult won't experience symptoms below this level. consumers must have properly maintained alarms to warn them about the presence of dangerous c.o. levels and avoid nuisance alarms. this need for accuracy and reliability is the cornerstone of underwriters laboratory standard 2034. the u.l. 2034 is an american national standards institute or a.n.s.i. standard that requires input from medical experts, approval bodies, government agencies like the cpsc, the national fire protection association, users and manufacturers in order to create a robust standard of performance. first published in 1992, ul-2034 has gone through several revisions, each based on years
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of field test data intended to progressively strengthen the standard. kidde supports the standard because it tests the design for electrical safety, mechanical robustness and the accuracy of c.o. production over time and in different environmental conditions. u.l. 2034 is continually reviewed by a standards nick call panel to keep pace with technology advances and past lessons learned. this process has lead to the creation of c.o.-sensing technology that's more advanced, stable and reliable than past generations. to date, 23 states have enacted laws requiring alarms in residential dwellings and while most mandate the alarm as meet ul-2034 there is no uniform requirement. more states will likely adopt similar regulation. in order to avoid confusion state lawmakers need a consistent standard to define
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what constitutes an approved alarm. without such a reference conflicting regulations arise, the counter one of the cpsc's main objectives which is to develop uniform safety standards for consumer products and to minimize conflicting state and local regulations. again, i thank committee members for their consideration of s s-1216 and raising awareness about c.o. dangers. we look forward to working with you to pass this important legislation. thank you again for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. i'd be glad to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you. mr. cochrane? >> mr. chairman, senators, other members of the committee, again, i'm calvin cochrane, associate administrator for the federal emergency management industry, united states fire administrator
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of the department of homeland security. i appreciate the opportunity to participate today in this discussion. since this is my first hearing following my confirmation, it's a great opportunity to participate in this important issue. i look forward to working with you on many other life, safety and fire prevention initiatives over the next three years. each year carbon monoxide poisoning kills or sickens thousands of americans. this colorless, odorless gas adheres to red blood cells faster than oxygen which interrupts the exchange of oxygen. consequently, the loss of oxygen leads to tissue damage and in some cases, death. from 1999 to 2004, approximately 450 americans died from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. on an annual basis,
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approximately 20,000 people visit emergency rooms and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. approximately 73% of those exposures occur in homes. 41% occurred during the winter months between december and february. carbon monoxide poisoning is most fatal for citizens above the age of 65. common causes or sources of carbon monoxide poisoning include house fires, faulty furnaces, heaters, wood-burning stoves, internal combustion vehicle exhaust, electrical generators, propane fuelled equipment such as portable stoves and gasoline powers too such as lawnmowers. the fire and emergency services of the united states of america have been aware of this silent killer for many, many years and
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have been trained on how to respond to and to mitigate suspected cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. municipal fire departments across the country respond to an estimated 60,000 nonfire carbon monoxide incidents on an annual basis. individuals and families can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by installing home carbon monoxide detectors. carbon monoxide detectors provide a crucial early warning of elevated levels of carbon monoxide. the united states fire administration believes citizens will be best prepared for an emergency in their homes if they install both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors during this critical period of the year. we have produced fact sheets and other information in conjunction
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with the department of housing and urban development and the national institute of standards and technology entitled smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for manufactured homes. this fact sheet and other materials referenced here today can be accessed on the united states fire administration's website at www.usfa.dhs.gov. americans can also do more to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. homeowners should regularly check and vent their homes' heating systems, regularly clean their chimneys and never leave vehicles running in a closed garage. these are other simple steps that can assure that carbon monoxide levels do not rise to dangerous levels within our homes. in recent years, the emergency management community has experienced -- or expressed concerns regarding post disaster deaths from carbon monoxide
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poisoning. data has shown that on average 170 people die every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with portable gas generators. such post disaster deaths are also caused by charcoal grills used inside homes or in closed garages during power outages. research from the center for hyperbaric medicine in seattle washington shows the number of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in emergency rooms spiked two to three days following power outages as survivors begin to recover. the united states fire administration has developed many brochures with guidance on the proper use of generators following disasters so survivors operating these machines can do so safely. the federal emergency management
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agency's director has said to look at how we can better prepare and respond to power outages in order to educate survivors and prevent these tragedies from occurring. finally, the united states fire administration will be working closely with the centers for disease control and prevention to distribute multi language brochures and develop public service announcements to better prepare citizens prior to disasters. we're also highlighting carbon monoxide poisoning in our monthly public education series for january 2010. the focus will be alternative heating sources which focuses on the dangers of carbon monoxide. i appreciate the opportunity to present before you today and look forward to working with you on this and other critical life safety and fire prevention initiatives. >> thank you, mr. cochran.
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i want to thank the panel for testimony today. it's helpful to the subcommittee. mr. korn, let me start with you. you have a stack of carbon monoxide alarms there. how can we do a better job, @@@r we see it in booster seats, pools, primary seat belt laws is to pass a state law that requires them in the homes. i would suggest, senator, all homes with combustible fuel. that's one. it gets the impromateur of the
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government saying this needs to be done. as to the consumer product safety commission maybe it's time they address this issue the same way they do fireworks or the same way they do toy safety where there is one time a year every year -- maybe the start of home heating season, where they do the same type of education in partnership with safe kids and other groups about the importance of detectors in the home. addressing it the same they do as other kwlars. final -- areas. finally, there is nothing more motivating for me than hearing stories. any time a parent shares a story about a child dying and their experiences, that's one of the best -- and let me say this. i deal a lot with parents who lose children. in my view it is the most
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selfless act for a parent like cheryl to share their story. there may be 15 minutes in a day where she doesn't think about her two children, but when she volunteers herself to express and educate others she's allowing all of us to intrude on that 15 minutes including this hearing. i think that's a special and selfless of gift. as long as parents are willing to tell their stories that's the best motivator. i have a 9-year-old and it's an unthinkable thought to lose a child. i'm going home tonight and checking my smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors because of this story. >> i agree. thank you very much. mr. andres, let me ask you a question about kidde and what, in your view and the company's view, what makes for a good
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carbon monoxide alarm and what makes one better than others? >> let's start with what makes a good alarm. what you really want with an alarm is selectivity to carbon monoxide gas only. you don't want an alarm that's going to react or sense other gases that are commonly found in a home and you don't want that to be viewed by the alarm as carbon monoxide. so selectivity just to carbon monoxide is an important attribute. al also, long-term stability. if we think of the alarm and the technology, we're trying to detect parts per million of a molecule that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. so long-term accuracy of technology so that over time it's just as good on day one as it is in year seven. it's an important attribute. those are two aspects i would look for in a carbon monoxide alarm. to help support that, there is a
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standard out there. ul-2034 which looks at these attributes in addition to a bunch more to make certain that those products that carry the ul mark meet these requirements. >> thank you for mentioning ul-2034. in your opening statement you mentioned that it gets updated from time to time. is the current status of ul-2034 current with the technology today and basically -- i mean, is it ready to be followed for a long time or does it need some improvement as well? >> yeah, it has -- i mean, since it was first published in 1992 it's gone through a number of revisions. a lot of those made good sense. revisions, for example, to incorporate tests to reduce nuisance alarms. proving long-term reliability and stability. basically any problems that the
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standards technical panel came across of which cpsc is a member of. those were addressed and the standard modified to ensure that future designs didn't have similar issues. so progressively getting better and better with time. it's a good standard at this point. >> so you think the standard, as it exists today is right where it needs to be? >> yes, i do. >> senator? >> well, thank you very much. i was looking at these and remembering that i go home by myself a lot on weekends. i came in once and i think there was something wrong with mine. it was going off all the time and i unplugged it. maybe i will buy one of these from you. i can't take it or we have a public violation of the ethics laws. very good. well, i want to thank all of you and just to follow up on a few of senator pryor's questions about the standard and how it's improved, is it difficult for
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manufacturers to meet the standard? why do you think it's important to have a mandatory one instead of a voluntary one? >> well, to answer the question, it is difficult to meet the standard. i mean the ul standard incorporates over 50 different performance tes. it takes time. it's not inexpensive, but at the end of the day, what we end up with as an industry is a product that's been designed to comply with the performance standard. if e with just think ability about it we think about putting products in the marketplace exposing ourselves in the entire category to consumers not having a belief in the way they would work or should work. we don't want to do that. we have an opportunity now with s-1216 to prevent that from happening, reduce the risk, build consumer confidence and maintain the reputation of carbon monoxide alarms in total.
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>> did the smoke alarms have a similar mandatory standard that this bill would ask for for carbon monoxide? >> smoke alarms, there is a ul standard for smoke alarms. it's ul-217. i don't believe it's mandatory, but i believe most states require smoke alarms be listed to the ul-217 standard. little bit different. you know, smoke alarms have been around for quite some time. if you look at the history of smoke alarms, there were actually businesses that had put smoke alarms into the marketplace without a ul mark. those businesses aren't around anymore. i think what we have here is the opportunity to prevent that from recurring. >> how much does one of these typically cost, a carbon monoxide alarm? >> i'd say the range is from $18 to $40 depending upon the feature set. >> do you just plug it in? >> yeah. they're -- well, you see some of
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the examples that mr. korn has. some are simple -- >> oh, that's who i can buy it from. >> installing batteries like in a remote control. others, just directly plug it into a wall outlet. that's how simple it is. >> mr. korn, we talked about the fact that it's 23 states including minnesota have laws on the books requiring carbon monoxide alarms in the home. can you talk about the effectiveness of these state laws? is there evidence of them reducing the carbon monoxide or the number of times they have effectively warned people of this silent killer? >> 23 states have the laws but frankly there is a patchwork of requirements. some require, like minnesota, rhode island, a few others, very good carbon monoxide law that covers all dwellings. others, i believe it's maine. i'm doing it off the top of my head, but i have the information. just hotels.
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some just require a carbon monoxide alarm only when there is a transfer of a home during a sale or otherwise changing hands. in our view, a more comprehensive law is important. i think the laws of chemistry exist the same in a rental unit with a combustible source of fuel as they do in a home that's been around for 30 years. carbon monoxide isn't any less poisonous just because it is in an existing home or in a new home or just because it is in a rental property. so we would hope your incentive grant and the state legislatures would pick up on what i think is a fairly new risk area. people don't know about it and pass laws to require them in the homes. i will just mention casually that a arkansas does not have a carbon monoxide detection law. maybe we can move toward that end. >> you know, ms. burt's tragic story really brought home the
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fact that kids are more vulnerable than adults even. adults obviously are as well. can you talk about that -- the body weight and the reasons children are more vulnerable? >> there are three or four reasons. one, children are smaller. so a toxin getting into their bodies affects them negatively faster than it does for an adult, although rest assured, at high enough levels it will affect even a large adult also. second, children don't have the ability to react like a parent would or an adult would. it is at least possible that an adult would recognize that something is wrong and maybe -- maybe make a connection to carbon monoxide. a child won't. a child will fall asleep or go unconscious and that's the end of it. i think children are particularly vulnerable as a population requiring that early
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detection just as much as -- if not more than others. i think seniors also are the same case. in fact many carbon monoxide deaths and poisonings happen to seniors because they don't react as a healthy adult would. >> mr. cochran, you noted the number of emergency room admissions spike around two to three days after a power outage meaning people are using portable gas generators, charcoal grills inside homes after a hurricane or a storm. what's the best way, if you could use your expertise here, to prevent the injury and death associated with these generators? >> well, assuring that proper venting is taking place in homes and when garages are used to store heat from appliances and
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making sure venting is appropriate in those areas as well. just monitoring. having a c.o. detector available so that even if the venting is not adequate enough that the carbon monoxide detector will sound to alarm to let them know dangerous levels are present. >> i noticed you talked about how many of these -- okay, this may be a selfish question, but everyone should know the answer. some state laws differ. what is recommended -- i think our law in minnesota says the alarm should be installed within ten feet of every bedroom and then some just say every floor. i would assume it is recommended there be one on every floor? >> one on every floor is pretty consistent. beyond that it boils down to different standards or family preferences. one on every floor is a consistent standard we stand by. >> okay. ms. burt, i know that you have
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spent a lot of time reaching out to families about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. have you seen a change in knowledge with the state laws passing in the 15 years since the tragedy? >> i have actually. when i first started doing this and i was telling my story or just telling friends and family or people i meet, a lot of people were just like, carbon monoxide, boy, you know, i don't really know anything about that or along those lines. as the years went on the more people i would talk to, they would be like, oh, yeah, yeah, we know all about that. my mom and dad got us one for christmas. they knew a lot more. it's been over the years, it's prevalent that people know about it, but even after hearing my story they still don't actually go out and purchase one and put it in and use it.
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and that's the part that gets me is that, you know, it's great to know about it, but not everybody's taking the steps needed to protect themselves. that's the part where this can come in handy. >> another part of the story that was so upsetting as a mother is you kept going back to the doctors, trying to figure out why you were all sick at the same time. has there been some increase in that kind of training or education for doctors, emts, firefighters, emergency room workers, people that would be asking the right questions to identify how this happened? >> there has been, i know at the m mayo clinic i have talked with a panel of people on it. it is more prevalent. it's something doctors do think about, but now that's in my state in one place. i don't know that all doctors would think carbon monoxide poisoning at this point when
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someone would present the way we were. certainly more public awareness on it would address that and gt it further promoted. i would like to see doctors think faster when someone's coming in constantly with the same type of symptoms and they're just saying, hmm, she's a kook, hype kond -- hypochondriak. i'm not blaming the medical community but i want more knowledge out there. >> mr. cochran, do you want to add to that? >> yes, ma'am. i can speak to training and preparedness for firefighters, especially those who are emergency medical technicians are extremely well aware and trained this particular time of year to focus on signs and symptoms that may be presented
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by patients that could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. in addition to that, this time of year municipal fire departments and volunteer agencies who have the resources commonly partner with businesses in the media in their area to increase awareness of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning this time of year. there are departments currently entering into campaigns across the nation where carbon monoxide detectors are being purchased and donated by faith-based groups and businesses and delivered to fire departments who actually receive calls from citizens for requests for carbon monoxide detectors and the firefighters themselves install the carbon monoxide detectors in the homes of citizens. that is a historical trend that's been occurring for 10 to 15 years and it's gaining momentum in communities all
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across the country. >> okay. thank you. i guess my last question, ms. burt, is i would assume you would suggest people put a carbon monoxide alarm in their stockings this holiday season and that this would be a good gift for people to give their family members. >> you are absolutely correct. >> all right. thank you very much. thank you for your courage in being here. thanks to all of you. it was very informative. >> thank you all for being here. i have some written questions that we may submit. i think that senator klobuchar and i get it. we're going to try to do something about this as quickly as we can. i didn't mention this before, ms. burt, but i had a circumstance in my house a few years ago. it didn't end in tragedy like yours did, but it could have. i was just out of law school and i had two roommates and we lived in an older house, as mr. korn
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said can be a problem. one of my roommates, his bedroom was just a few feet down the hall from a bathroom and it had a hot water heater in the bathroom and the carbon monoxide was just leaking out of that hot water heater. we had no idea. you know, it had come with the house. we didn't think to check it, but sure enough he's getting flu-like symptoms, headaches and the whole thing. he figured it out. i'm not sure how, but he knew something was wrong. he figured it out and we replaced the water heater and installed it properly with the right venting and everything. this can sneak up on you without anybody knowing. it was a near miss in our case. we need to do more in terms of law, but also to bring awareness to this. i really thank you all for being here. we're working with all of you trying to get something passed next year.
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we're out of time this year, as amy knows, to get anything -- >> oh, there's still another week left. >> so realistically we won't get it done in the next week. thank you for being
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-- contractors could be heading into afghanistan. this hearing is just beginning. live on c-span. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> i kept coming back to contract in, because the auditor in me was surprised at some of the things i began learning about contracting in iraq. so i went to iraq. and the purpose of my trip was not to do what many senators do when they go to iraq, which is
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to look at the conflict through the present -- the prism of the military mission, i went specifically to oversee contract in and what was going on with contrasting. i spent more time in kuwait, which would surprise some of you, then i spent in theater. and i had many different things that happened on that trip that are seared into my hard drive. realizations about the lack of coordination and integration between various pots of money. amazing lapses in scoping contracts and making contracts definite enough they could be in force, particularly from any kind of accountability stand. in the government and getting their money that -- fromt he standpoint when it did then -- in getting their money back when it did been used and misused by contractors. i will tell you how bad the
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problem was in iraq. we were sitting in a roroom in iraq. and as is often the case, when you get a briefing from the military, there was a power. point. there must be in law somewhere where you are not allowed to get a briefing in the military without powerpoint. there were command staff. there were lots of people that clearly had the military command authority in the area. but they turned over the discussion of the log cap contract to a woman, a civilian, in a room. and they turned it over to her because she was the one that was trying to make the trains run on time and knew all lot about it. she showed the contract by year. as many of you remember, the
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first year of the contract, it wildly exceeded the contract by billions of dollars. i cannot remember now, but my recollection was the first year was $18 billion. the original estimate was less than $1 billion. then she showed a borrower graph of the years and you shot a big drop after the first year to the next year and then it leveled out. it was a huge amount of money. she got to the presentation and you could tell she was nervous. so i was trying to help corporate i was trying to be kind. -- and i was trying to be kind. and i said to her, you left out what you all did to bring that contract down so much after the first year. there were is an uncomfortable silence in the room as ever when shifted and looked into each other. with god as my witness, she looked at me across the table and said it was a fluke.
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that is the best example i can give you of several examples of how contract thing went wild in iraq. so, here we are, in afghanistan. and i know many of you, because you reference in your testimony, have gone through siger's book of hard lessons. i know you understand the challenges we face in contracting, but one thing is clear -- we will have more contractors in afghanistan and we will have men and women in uniform. there is no doubt about that. we will spend a significant chunk of the tens of billions of dollars in afghanistan and will be spent for contractors. the purpose of this hearing, and it will be the first of several hearings we will have, is to get an overview as to how the ground has changed as a relates to
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contract in during a contingency. how is the coordination occurring? how integrated is the effort? most importantly, is the mission now saturated with the knowledge that if we are going to have contractors, do supply lines, make breakfast, do the laundry, build not only the buildings for men and women in uniform but buildings and roads for the people of afghanistan, do that taxpayers have a better shot of getting value for their money this time than they did in iraq? i certainly hope they do. i want to thank all of you for being here. i look forward to your testimony. o work in progress, as we begin to get a real handle on how we spend money in a contingency to make sure we do not waste the billions and billions and billions of dollars that went up in smoke in iraq. and i will turn it over to you,
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senator bennett, for your statement. >> thank you, matter and chairman. i'm interested in your story. -- thank you, madam chairman. i have a quick story about iraq. i was being shown in kuwait -- as you put it, that is where everything jumps off. the transportation program of how they were shipping material from kuwait to iraq. a very competent lieutenant colonel was in charge of this, and he was very much on top of the whole thing. i ask him, are you army corps reserve? he said, i am reserve board. he said he has a distribution manager for walmart. for once, the army has the right joint of the civilian experience and the military assignment. that may be a jumping off the pick up on where you have led us with their opening statement.
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the challenge in afghanistan where, as you correctly noticed, we have as many contractors -- personnel as we have military personnel. that ratio will stay the same. if we may not end up with more contractor personnel than military personnel. they are both engaged in exactly the same thing, which is a counterinsurgency kind of battle, which means the contractor cannot sit back and say i have done my job, but i am not a engaged in the counterinsurgency. because the way we deal with counterinsurgency, to take the slogan of of the iraq research, is that you control it and to hold it in to build. the contractor is very much involved in the holding and the building. and it must work hand in glove
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with the military and it cannot -- have its own control system and its own separate management plan without being completely integrated in this kind of ' rrrr to be done quickly, to put out the money to do it quickly. do we make sure that we do not cross the line there of having the commander do something that aid and the state department
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should be doing in the name of the commanders of emergency response program? that is another part of this where there needs to be some coordination. so, i guess basically what i am saying is, when the government agencies outsource the work that they want performed, they cannot outsource the results. and that is too often what happens. you outsource the work and you say that is the contractor's responsibility and we do not oversee the results. everything has to be coordinated, and the challenge we have from our witness panel is to see that the military and state department, aid, and the contractors are meshed together for the best results there. i believe in contracting. i think it is a great improvement over the old military where everything had to be done by a soldier somewhere,
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even if had nothing to do with the military mission. as we move to that good idea, the challenge of coordinating all of that becomes very serious. and it is very laudatory that you are holding this. to try to probe into how that is done. -- holding this hearing to probe into how that is done. >> let me introduce the witnesses. we have william campbell, the director of operations for the undersecretary of defense at the department of defense. he has responsibility for the development of the overseas contingency operations request. he served as becky -- acting deputy assistant secretary of the army for budget. we have edward harrington, a deputy assistant secretary for the army. he has more than 28 years of experience in weapons acquisition and contract no. he served as director of the
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defense contract management agency from 2001-2003. charles north is the senior deputy director of the afghanistan-pakistan taskçó fore at the u.s. agency for international development. he has been with u.s. a-n-d since 1987. he previously served -- he has been with usaid since 1987. he was in the state department in the office of foreign assistance. daniel feldman is the special representative for afghanistan and pakistan at the department of state. he is one of two deputies to ambassador holbrooke. he previously served as director of the humanitarian affairs at the national security council during the clinton administration and was the council and communications adviser on this committee. he was a partner echo foley and hope.
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jeff parsons is the executive director of the army command. he serves as the principal adviser to the commanding general of the army material command on contract in matters, and as the program manager for the contract in an acquisition program. is the custom of this subcommittee to swear in all witnesses that appear before us. i would like to ask you to stand. do you all swear the testimony you give before this subcommittee will be the truth, bohol truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god -- the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? we ask that your testimony been no more than five minutes and we will put your written testimony as part of the record. i want to thank all of you for your service to your country. none of you are in these jobs because you are making the big bucks.
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you are working because you care about your country and want to contribute. let's start with that, and i will begin with mr. campbell. >> thank you, chairman mccaskill, and senator bennett. my remarks will focus on the commanders emergency response program. cerp began as a u.s.-funded program in 2004 and is designed to enable local commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction departments within their area of responsibility. it is a tool that commanders used to fund projects that will immediately assist the local populations. in testimony before the senate armed services committee last april, general petraeus called cerp a vital counterinsurgency
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tool for our commanders in afghanistan and iraq. he said they can be the most efficient means to address all local communities' needs. where security is lacking is often the most immediate means for addressing these needs. since 2004, dod has obligated $1.60 billion for cerp programs in afghanistan. that includes about $551 million in fiscal year 2009. of those projects, about 23 projects in 2009, 2/3 of those funds were spent on transportation projects. about 90% of all projects were valued at five and a thousand dollars or less -- $500,000 or less. congress has authorized for 2010, about $1.3 billion.
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centcomm plans to allocate the bulk of those funds to operations in afghanistan. by its nature, we involved decentralized implementation by local commanders. its hallmarks our responsiveness to urgent needs and flexibility. we have heard the concerns expressed by members of congress here today as well. we have studied the recent findings of audit reports and examined lessons learned. we have taken steps within the army and with an centcom to improve the oversight of the program, all with the goal without diminishing flexibility and responsiveness. within dod the office of the comptroller provides guidance. they went through an update of june and december of 2008. this guidance is supplemented by field-level instruction and training.
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all guidances' updated to respond to changing operational conditions. to improve oversight of the program, the army enhanced training for four positions -- project manager, project purchasing officer, the paying agent and the unit commander. the first to inform a triad of expertise that every project must have. they make sure the appropriate projects are identified and training is provided to provide the checks and balances in every project. in afghanistan, the u.s. agency for international development participates and a voting that -- as a voting member. their participation prevents duplication of effort in helps identify problems with sustainment of projects nominated by the cerp program. the time, energy and ingenuity that people have devoted to improving this program reflects a desire to spend taxpayers'
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money wisely and maintain a program that is a valuable tool in iraq and afghanistan. more improvements can be made in the management to maintain flexibility and the accountability of this essential field-driven program. to that end, the deputy secretary will lead a review of the program to determine how best to enhance the department's guidance, management and oversight. this report will be completed and made available in the spring. thank you for the tremendous support of the congress to this program. i will be glad to address any questions on cerp. thank you. >> chair while mccaskill, senator bennett, members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the army's contracting operations in afghanistan where we strive to be responsive to our war fighters. while ensuring the proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
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with me is jack parsons, executive dollar -- executive director of the army contract in committee. we have a statement that we request would be made a part of today's hearing. we thank the members of congress as we work to rebuild the acquisition and contrasting work force to increase -- to execute the workload. in the last 15 years, it has increased in excess of four 500%. with your help of the office of the secretary of defense, we are working to rebuild our work force numbers and restore their skills. along with additional personnel, we thank you for authorizing five additional general offices. our progress and filling these positions is outlined in our written statement. our major general bill phillips wilson relinquish command of jccia, and become the principal
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military deputy for acquisition, -- and technology in the army. both of these require a three- star billing. major-general camille nichols will replace the general phillips. he was the first contract in general officer to be the principal military jeopardy. -- deputy. jcia is authorized to contract for goods and services that include emergency response programs. the mission does not include reconstruction of afghanistan because that mission is assigned to the u.s. agency for international development. jccia does have a direct role in developing the economy of afghanistan, for example, through the afghan first program we are awarded $1.80 billion to afghani businesses since october
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1, 2008. they awarded more than $39 million to women-owned businesses. we supported the president's decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to afghanistan. general phillips is discussing a mission -- working on a mission analysis to determine the resources, personnel and locations were contractor support will be required. we are engaged with jccia to provide that direct support. earlier this year, we developed a joint theater contract support office within my office at the pentagon to and shore jccia has fully-funded, amanda and supported resources in this contract in mission. as additional troops deployed, this mission takes on greater importance. we are continually improving our process used to leverage stateside contrasting capabilities to augment jccia's.
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wheat -- we established a reach back contract in office as a center of excellence in illinois. through this center, we are working with the army contract in command to identify requirements and theater that can be performed at rock island. we have initiated coordination with the air force to provide a team of contrasting officers to augment rock island's reach back capability. to ease the workload in theater, the army has established the specific contract close out task force and in san antonio, now in the process of closing at 80,000 contracts. thank you very much. mr. parsons will now discuss the logistics of the augmentation program. >> jim mccaskill, senator bennett, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to
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provide information on the status of the contracts in afghanistan. from the logcap 3 contracts to this logcap 4 contract. they enable the army to provide critical support to the troops serving on the front lines of afghanistan. the highly complex and challenging program is accomplished by a team of up to four deployed and rear echelon department u.s. army civilians, army reserve officers, and noncommissioned officers and a support unit and the officers nco's of the defense contract management agency. these hard-working, highly skilled people make up teen logcap and provide oversight -- team locap. [unintelligible] the defense contract audit agency provides for support and is a key partner. team logcap is supported by the
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men and women in in the u.s. army material command in the u.s. army contract in command dh6,xg) g)xg) it is my honor to lead the contractor team in the achievement of these goals. thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. this concludes my opening remarks spurred >> thank you, mr. parsons. mr. north? >> chairman mccaskill, senator
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bennett, and senator kirk, and other members of the subcommittee, thank you for your opportunity to speak before the subcommittee. i will keep my remarks brief and asked that my written statement be submitted as part of the official record. within the president's afghanistan-pakistan strategy, usaid 's mission in afghanistan is to support afghan-led development, built afghan capacity at local and national levels and to strive for sustainability. afghanistan is a high risk environment in which corruption and extortion pose risks. as a result, it would be impossible for usaaid under these circumstances to declare that wrongdoing will never occur. at the same time, it is important to underscore that we have systems and practices to minimize opportunities for
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misconduct and misappropriation of funds. based on these requirements, we aggressively manage and monitor performance, review and improve our systems and practices and respond to all allegations. we work closely with be usaid inspector general as well as the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction and that general government accounting office. to best respond to the president's strategy, usaid has become an integral component in the unity of effort in afghanistan. all of our planning streamlines in accordance with government agencies. on the ground, we work under the leadership of ambassador eikenberry and ambassador wayne. -- with the reconstruction teams and in regional command teams, we work daily with the military and civilian counterparts to
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implement the u.s. government's mission in afghanistan. they serve as additional eyes and ears on the ground to further improve our program effectiveness and to fly potential issues. -- to flag potential issues. çóour on the ground presence zaq doubled since january and continues to grow. as of december 7, usaid çó afghanistan has 180 americas staff in country. usaid expects to have a total of 333 americans on the ground early next year. we also have 136 afghans and 16th third country nationals on our staff afghanistan. we currently have 10 contract in offices and -- officers to focus on afghanistan and more than 57 officers on our staff in country as well. ñiour staff operates with a new initiative called afghan-first,
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which othersçó referred to it as the guiding principle -- afghans lead, not follow in their path to a secure and economically viable country. the program strives to buy afghan project -- products, use afghan specialists whenever possible in order to build capacity in afghanistan. in conclusion, afghanistan is hungry for development. the united states, in coordination with partners, is providing jobs for the jobless, a voice to the voiceless, food for the one great and hope for the hopeless. we know will be difficult. we remain optimistic, even during weeks like this when five members of our team from the development alternatives international were killed by a suicide bomber. but these principles,ñi extendig and monitoring and oversight, as skilled courses and
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development, civilian development specialists and placing afghans first, will make a difference for the people of afghanistan. thank you. >> thank you, mr. north. we are continuously standing in of people who lose their lives -- stand in awe of people who lose their lives, whether civilians or part of our ñimilitary, it is beyond bravery that people are willing to stand up and go into a contingency like that, especially in some ways, i do not think civilians dead end of pats on the back. we love which eight civilians get-- we think civilians do not get enough pats on the back. >> thank you for your invitation to appear before the subcommittee to discuss our efforts to enhance oversight for development and contracting in
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afghanistan. as a former staffer on this committee, it is a unique experience to be back in this hearing room. >> can't wait. [laughter] >> as you know, this is a complex topic with many agencies going various aspects. the state department po's office has a role in approving and improving contracts, while our embassy and usaid colleagues can speak more directly to the issue of implementation. as secretary clinton noted in her recent appearance before the foreign relations committee, the obama administration inherited in under resources civilian effort in afghanistan. efforts since 2001 have fallen short of expectations. we have conducted a review of our objectives but also how we go about delivering our assistance programs. the result is a new, more
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focused effort aligned with our core of disrupting al gaeda. we are in partnership with the afghan government and local afghan partners. what we have not resolved all the problems we uncovered, i believe we now have a more robust system in place that will deliver improved results over the next 12 to 18 months. let me outline our approach our civilian assistance aims to build the capacity of afghan government institutions to diminish the threat posed by extremism. [unintelligible] it focuses on the job creation, especially in the agricultural sector and improving service delivery at the national, provincial and local levels. long-term construction efforts aim to provide a system for sustained economic growth. we have pursued four discrete categories -- one, smaller
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contracts, decentralization, increased direct assistance and improved accountability and oversight. on smaller contracts, we are shifting away from large contracts to more flexible reconstruction contracts with your subcontracts that enable greater on the ground oversight. the premise behind this flexibility is simple -- in a dynamic conflict environment, we need to adapt our programs as issues change on the ground. it will be managed by u.s. officials on the field. it will make it easier for the officials to direct and monitor and oversee projects to ensure the proper use of taxpayer funds. i did centralization, usaid officials bring with them at finding and flexible authorities to enhance the responsiveness of programs and better coordinated afghan parties. we found that not only does decentralized programs enhance productivity, but it is also a
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more cost-effective. on increase in direct assistance, we are increasing our reliance on international contractors and building institutional capacity by increasing direct assistance to afghan government, in consultation with congress. this includes more u.s. backing for [unintelligible] they must be certified. support to the civil service commission increases the leadership within the afghan government, enabling them to increase -- to assume responsibility for their own economic discussed -- recovered. our goal is to certify six afghan ministries. at the start of our review, ambassador holbrooke reviewed individually ever major contract to make sure they were all lined with the president's strategy
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from march, 2009. the insured that our new contracts introduce mechanisms to improve performance. washington remains involved, ambassador tony wayne, are coordinating director in kabul, as day-to-day responsibility for reviewing each contract to ensure its adherence to national security goals. the international assistance of afghanistan has the potential to contribute to corruption, we have deployed new personnel to enhance oversight as well as additional technical staff. the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction is congress's eyes and ears on the ground. the secretary and all of us who worked in afghanistan believe we have a duty to ensure the resources provided by the american people are used for
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purposes intended and approved by the congress. the reforms we implemented it will decrease overhead costs for assistance programs, increasing the amount per dollar directly benefiting the afghan people and afghan institution. it is a dynamic operational environment. we are making every effort to ensure that the required operational flexibility is matched with the highest dedication to accountability. we are committed to make -- to taking corrective actions when a problem occurs. >> thank you, mr. feldman. we will do as many rounds as we need to do in order for everyone to cover their questions today. let me start out by asking a question that probably individuate none of you can answer, but it might be one of those moments for collaboration. could somebody give me an number in terms of how much we're spending on contracts in
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afghanistan? what would you guess the number is going to beat for this year or next year? -- is going to be for this year or next year? can anybody do that? let's do it by stovepipe. are there significant contractual obligations of thencerp and iad -- other than cerpa n and aid? am i missing other contracts? >> from an army perspective, the joint command will contract for all of the goods and services. >> i left out l ogcap. >> and the joint contract in committee in afghanistan contracts for specific goods and services for those requirements outside of the bound oflogca logcap. trucking, air support, services
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such as that. >> we have cerp, logcap, i will refer to what you just said as other, and aid. anything else i have missed? any big pots of money being spent that i have missed? mr. feldman? >> state department, all together, we are in a state of flux. one of our latest contracts for police training in the process of being transferred back to dod, about $450 million. if you take that out, that will be back at the department of defense and the first quarter of next year, we have about $900 million of programming. -- it is fort counter-narcotics, justice programs -- for counter- narcotics and justice programs. taking out the police, under
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1500 contractors altogether. >> how big is logcap? >> different -- the current contract in afghanistan is in the neighborhood of $1.8 billion . [unintelligible] i would like to add that i know we are doing a bit of contracting for the combined security transition committee in afghanistan. we are buying a lot of equipment that is being provided to the afghan army and the afghan police, plus some other training support contracts that we do for them. those i know are averaging probably total about $1 billion per year if not more. >> that is not in "other." that is additional? >> yes. >> tell me again?
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>> the combined -- >> cistica. you guys kill me. you have never found an acronym you did@ú'å@ @ >@ @ @ @ @ @ @ h3 that got layered in there. it was interesting to me, because i would go to talk to the army corps of engineers, and i would hear one set of facts.
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then i would move to somewhere else and you're a completely different set of facts. where is army corps of engineers in here, if at all? >> the army corps of engineers is the other component of this. i will take a question for the record to get an accurate dollar account for you. some of this is still slightly on known, because requirements are going to be generated throughout this time frame, but we will get you the actual numbers. >> what will they be doing? >> primarily construction projects, permanent building construction projects. >> for the military or for the afghan people? >> essentially for both. >> and their money is going to come from where? from your money or from state's money? >> i do not know. i will find out. >> ok
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i appreciate your honesty that you do not know. but it is a problem. >> yes, ma'am. >> my understanding is the army corps engineers will oversee the large projects. that is why you get different facts. the army is going to be executing funds appropriated to the army, appropriated in the case of iraq, to security forces funds. there could be so miltcon projects that go through our record engineers and not through the commands in theater. i can understand why you would get different facts. >> that is how things get lost in the shuffle. cerp is doing big stuff now. i am going to turn it over to senator bennett. cerp is no longer fixing a broken glass on storefront. they are doing a large, large projects.
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the question is, are they contrasting with people to do that or will army corps come in to do that? that is where i am not clear? have they drifted from their initial walking around money? as it drifted into the category aid or army corps reconstruction major project, and are we losing expertise in the shuffle, and are we going to get the oversight and monitoring we need? thank you. senator bennett? >> thank you very much. following through with what the chairman has said, i have talked about the coordination between it the combat units and the contractors. when combat units are in the field, they expect to have a high degree of situational awareness established between operating centers at higher levels of command. this means the tactical
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maneuvers of one unit do not get messed up with the tactical maneuvers of another unit. what is the command structure at all local, provincial and national level in afghanistan to ensure you have the same degree of coordination or avoidance of duplication that is expected of combat units, with respect to reconstruction units? >> senator, within the central command, the joint contract in command, or rat-afghanistan has the responsibility for theater business clearance for the central command. that is the clearing house with respect to where our responsibilities lie, executing -- [unintelligible] outside of that, we do not have the purview of those requirements.
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in coordination with logcap, it is the central point to which we find ways to execute requirements for the war fighters that we support. >> since you have that group in place, do you have any information about how often they stumble into situations where what is being done in reconstruction you unit a does t correlate with what is being done in your b, and they exercise their authority -- in unit b, in the exercise their authority? can you give me some examples of how it works? >> the organizational structure in terms of executing those requirements and geographical locations, when a requirement comes in for a certain to clerical location for operating base, they get the responsibility to execute that. if it is a more complex unit,
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that is when we turn it back to reach back at what island. -- at rock isalnd. land. the staff that supports that oversees the functions toward those contracts and has the purview of all of those contracts coming to it. that is with centcom. that is our responsibility. >> any other comments? >> i can tell you, i have a budget person. on cerp, what they have done that in afghanistan and from lessons learned in iraq -- learned in iraq, they have set up a review board. as i mentioned, it has eight usaid rep on it. it is on the command level. it is not segregated in the field. all of those projects come back up to two-star or higher level
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command were taken to the integration you refer to. i cannot say they have everything in there, but they do their best to integrate at least aid. >> there have been reports of friction between states aid, exacerbated after the 2006 merger ofai aid into state. i am not asking you to tell any details of the school, but can you give us some characterization of the relationship between aid and main state? >> i think we should both answer. [laughter] >> everything is fine? >> we work closely with the state department at all levels. ambassador holbrooke's staff is an interagency group that includes the aid staff. [inaudible]
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>> they are asking that you pull the microphone closer. >> sorry. we have three usaid officer on ambassador holbrooke's staff to help with coordination in washington. out in kabul, we work with ambassador dwaine and ambassador eikenberry -- and ambassador wayen. ne. we have in your agency strategies on agriculture, with the u.s. department of agriculture and the national guard. how do we go forward on implementing agricultural programs in afghanistan? when you go to the provincial level, the planning level there, aid does participate in cerop
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decision making, but also with the state department. it is a close relationship. two different organizations. there are areas that we continue to work on to improve that coordination. >> mr. feldman? >> the success of our mission would be impossible without a cooperative working relationship usaid. -- with usaid. it was part and parcel of ambassador robert's and 10 when he created this office to make it -- of ambassador holbrooke's in 1020 created this office. -- when he created this office. dod has three represent atives. i would also amplify the point about ambassador tony wayne in the field, who is the coordinating director for development and economic affairs
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since june. he oversees all u.s. government, non-military assistance. we have created a counterpart in pakistan to have the same coordination. he directs and supervises a wide range of sections, programs, agencies. there are 15, national-level working groups. not only do we believe we have to work towards as a coordinated injure agency to be successful. >> inter agency to be successful. >> i have another subcommittee to go to, so i am at your mercy. you can do whatever you want by unanimous consent. >> i would like us to vote on the health care bill by monday and go well for christmas. [laughter] will that work? >> maybe not at third >> i thought i would give it a shot. ho ho ho. senator kirk? >> thank you, madame chairman
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and senator bennett for this opportunity. it is a timely hearing. welcome, gentlemen, and tahnhank you for your service. we are about to spend billions of dollars in afghanistan, a country that enjoys a reputation of having a culture of corruption. i sometimes said it is the second-most corrupt country in the world. general mcchrystal, when he was here, and he has written before hand that the success of the american operation in afghanistan will largely be measured on how we do, paraphrasing, by, with and through the afghanistan government. my first question is, with that as a backdrop, and each of you are -- york agencies and
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departments -- york agencies and departments, are the particular systems that you are going to undertake that will give us some assurance in the american tax payers some assurance that the money that is going to be spent over there will be properly overseen, accountable, so that we do not fall into that trap of that culture and find that a lot of our taxpayer dollars are being expended for kickbacks or wheneveatever. maybe i will start with you, mr. north, and that others want to join in in terms of your respective departments and agencies it would be helpful. >> thank you. we recognize the issue of corruption is a major concern in afghanistan.
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but we are also looking to put more of our resources through the government of afghanistan, but doing it responsibly. we have ongoing programs to strengthen the capacity of government ministries, not only personnel about their systems, so they can bring them up to standards that we require for us to provide direct assistance to the government. we signed an agreement with the ministry of health year-ago for over to a million dollars -- $200 million and we provide assistance to the ministry of finance. in addition to strengthening their systems, we have ongoing assessments of other ministries, including the ministry of education, agriculture, and the ministry of rural rehabilitation. by going through these assessments, we can identify the weaknesses and support their
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efforts to strengthen their systems, not just for being able to manage our resources but also to improve the overall accountability of afghan resources for the long term. so this is very much part and parcel of what we are about, is strengthening systems but also working with and through the afghan government. >> thank you. >> there are a range of initiatives we have tried to implement since the beginning of this year to try to improve contract oversight and performance, and they fall into five categories. the first is the overarching organizational structure. having ambassador tony wayne there helped to do that. that position did not exist a year ago. it helps improve oversight and interagency coordination. second is the contract in methods.
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-- contacting methods. usaid is increasing one-year contracts. @@ program officers -- to ensure that contractors are performing according to standards. the fourth is the general civilian increases in the field. we have more than doubled the number of u.s. civilians deployed to the field this year. the more that are there, were the contracts are located, and
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their projects are happening, the more oversight we can provide. the fifth is the extra oversight mechanisms, and that is working in close concert and supporting the missions of the various inspectors general, the gao and other external reporting mechanisms. what i would say about corruption is that this is an issue that is at the core of our strategy in afghanistan. we have made a very robust and consistent case are dealing more aggressive on corruption to the karzai government. it was part of his inaugural speech, as we hoped it would be. he held just yesterday the anti- corruption conference. it is something that we and the rest of the international community will watch very closely. there has been all range of suggestions from revitalizing it and anti corruption commission to bring in some high-level
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prosecutions. if we cannot deal with it nationally, to work at a regional level where we can work around corruption if we have to. so, it is something that is at -- it is very central to our core mission. >> thank you very much. >> if i could add real quickly, one of the things we are doing with our soldiers as we see them as the front line on being able to identify bad business practices. we are teaching all of them ethics training and that things they need to look for is they perform their duties as contracting officers. that will go a long way. i met with the expeditionary fraud investigation before this hearing. -- division of the army, and they are increasing their presence in afghanistan. >> thank you. i know my time is up, but may i just ask if there and the other -- mr. campbell, mr. harrington?
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>> yes, thank you. what i would do is give you an example that will get at the local level issue. all cerp money is executed and managed by u.s. government employees or soldiers. in rare exceptions, coalition forces can use it. one of the things that the resource manager at centcom has implemented it is moving more towards electronic transfer of funds. in iraq, years ago where we used to have plane loads of cash, what you're finding in afghanistan is a lot of this is being transferred in local currencies, but also an electronic fund transfer. once it gets into the local population, it is up to them to deal with. >> sir, to reinforce mr.
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parson's comments, we are taking more than active role in training are contrasting officers earlier in the process and ensuring that they are identified as trained and assigned with certificates such that when they do arrive in theater, they are linked with their contract and officers and they go through a good briefing on the contractor's performance and functions. that training includes being able to a valuate the contractor's performance and provide that information to the contract in officer. that culminates in ascertaining the deliverable we are supposed to get, a supply a product, and executing of payment, as mr. campbell notes, electronically, so that we have a good, to process all the way through the payment of the contractor. . .
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>> this is a great amount of dollars, a variant -- importance of theater. -- a very important here. part of this is going to be the civilian component of it. ines wondering about the licensing program being administered -- i am just wondering about the licensing program be administered by afghanistan. is that something that each of you subscribe to as the right way to go? >> ambassador eikenberry addressed this in his recent testimony. we do support that and we think it would help to provide a
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certain amount of consistency. this came up in part due to the rates that international contractors pay compared to the rates that afghans may make. the lesser rate at this point, if they go into the army or police and other things. we want to make sure that we create the right incentives and do not create disincentives for them to join the security forces. we do see this as one way to help address that and we would certainly favor it. >> thanks very much. chairman, i am also going to have to excuse myself. thank you for your forbearance and i thank you gentlemen as well. >> thank you, senator kirk. i'm glad you were here. let me start drilling down on a lot cap -- log cap. you know, i feel about log capp
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3, like the movie that never ends. by philip we are continuing to utilize it and not transitioning into logcap 4, even though we have awarded to under 4, it appears to me that less than $1 billion has been funded under logcap 4 and logcap 3 is totaling $34.4 billion. what is the holdup? why can't we let those of the kbr dynasty? >> i think we are letting loose of that. we have been deliberately moving from logcap 3 to 4 and we have talked with many of the staffers there is a deliberate process that we would move from some requirements from three to four and then move to afghanistan and then move to the more complex
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situation, which was in iraq. i think that is what we have been falling. i think you are aware that all of the logcap requirements transitioning it from three to four were in the beginning part of the transition in afghanistan from the old logcap 32 logcap 4 -- 3 to logcap4. is not a simple transition process, especially with the equipment that would have bought from kbr and the different camps. and having to account for that and also getting men and women and equipment into a transition into afghanistan. we have got to be cognizant of the commanders operational requirements as well. logcap requirements in iraq, we should be making an award at the end of this month and maybe into january before services in iraq. what has been holding us back on
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late-based life support is not knowing exactly what the requirements are born to be. now that president has made decisions requiring the drawdown and other components by 2011. we should be releasing the rfp very soon and then the transitional will start taking place again sometime in 2010. >> it is my understanding that floor has the no. in afghanistan and dyncorp has the south, correct? >> correct. >> and they are doing all of the tasks in those areas. it is not task to task competition that we ended up with. it ended up regional competition. >> yes, we made a conscious decision in afghanistan to split afghanistan in two with different contractors because we wanted to maintain the capability and capacity the two contractors, so if we needed to increase requirements, which we obviously need to do now, we
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would have that capacity in there. plus, we did not want to have a single point of failure. which is what we recognize in iraq. we were tied to kbr in iraq and kbr decided not to perform any more, we did not have a back up. this way, if we have performance problems with one of the contractors, we will have two there in the theater on the other one can pick up. i know you have concerns about the way that we structured these task orders. we recognize that if we were going to select one for the north and one for the south, we would have to find a way to preserve the competition that we had with those awarded the task orders. we established a service price matrix and took about 80% of all of the key services that are provided under those task orders for all of the basic life support. and we have the majors with the base line pricing which the fee was paid on. the feed at these contractors will earn are tied back to -- the fees that these contractors will earn are tied back to these
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matrix. >> what you're telling me, which is great news -- a huge improvement -- that somebody that is pitting a potato of north is going to get paid about what somebody who is is down south. >> not necessarily, ma'am. there are differences for some of the services between what we have in our price matrix for the north versus the south, but that is because the contractors have different rate structures, took different approaches at it. what we will also have is dca * is going in and auditing -- dca8 is auditing and going in to negotiate. >> let's say something a little bit easier. per head breakfast. i assume that we are buying breakfast by head. >> very close, there was no bounce pricing debora zabul we did the competition.
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-- that we saw when we did the competition. >> ok, i saw that dyncorp's partner are invited. agility, crinolincriminally in r violations of false claims act. basically, they are caught ripping us off. i understand that you have suspended them, but it is also might understanding that the way the wheels and laws work, they can continue to get work under their contract for even though they have been indicted for ripping us off. is that accurate? >> it is interesting that you bring this question up. mr. harrington and i met with dyncorp officials this week to discuss another matter, but they did bring up agility. what they informed us was that they would no longer be using vagility as a partner. they set up an agreement with their partners -- be using a
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vagility as a partner produced an agreement with their partners that they would reestablish a relationship. >> more progress. ok, i also understood that you recently suspended $14.2 million in costs that were built by floor. -- built by four. under logcap 4 that there were $14.2 million in expenses that were there. >> there have been some questions about floors compensation and also their purchasing and compensation system. the contracting officer has been looking at withholds in those systems and making sure those
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systems are corrected. >> i would love to know the details. it would reassure me that we have transitioned into a situation where we will try to take money away instead of paying them and saying later, maybe we should not have given that to you, but too late now, we will not try to claw back. >> right. >> i would like to know the underlying details. if we are withholding, i would like the details. >> we will get that for you. but let's talk about contractors verses police -- >> lets talk about contractors vs. police and military. these answers are very important for the record. i went over this with secretary gates in the armed services hearing and with general mcchrystal. it is my understanding that many of these contract positions, people need to understand this is a world of difference from iraq in terms of use of afghans. we have got more than 50% -- in fact, almost 100%

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